You have to read to write. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the statement and I soon discovered it wouldn’t be the last. This was only my second writer’s conference so the words were lost in the jumble of other information that crowded the weekend.
It came up again recently. It’s been around six years since that conference, but I’ve heard that same statement time and time again. I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom with three active boys. If I had time to actually read a book I might not feel so compelled to write.
The time issue aside, I finally understand exactly what the statement means. Not only do I need to read to keep up with the trends of the time but it also helps me do so much more with my writing.
1. Reading magazines and books reveals what the publisher or editor likes or needs. It can also give me ideas as to the voice that is most appealing, subjects that have been covered and should be skipped, and other insights to help me strengthen a query.
2. Reading other writers – particularly out of my genre comfort zone – can ignite my own imagination. How many times have I been flipping through a waiting room magazine when I thought “that particular idea should be a FULL article”?
3. Reading often motivates my own writing. Reading material that is good, positive and uplifting or that is teaching and inspiring can push me to write one more article or to apply for one more job.
4. Reading other writing can help me see the flaws in my own writing. It may be something as simple as using words in the wrong place: he can’t right write. It may be that I begin to see major flaws in my characters or my plot.
5. Ready can give me a push to get out of the safety of my normal genre. It is a good idea to write for magazines, to write short fiction and to write long fiction because each genre will push your skills and talents and create a better writer.
It does take reading to become a stronger, more consistent writer. What is it that you are reading right now, or on a regular basis? How do you feel that reading can expand your writing?
The journey to become a successful freelance writer or any type of writer is one that is unique for each person. The great thing about reading is that it can give us some of the experiences or learning that we need by viewing the mistakes and success of other writers. You have to read to write.